Everything seemed done and dusted. The Aberdeen city council had approved Aberdeen’s new stadium, and even though the club had postponed the start of construction, there was little doubt that they would move into a new home in the summer of 2014.
The vote wasn’t a new vote on the Aberdeen Arena, but a vote on the proposed plans to develop Calder Park into a sports complex. This complex would hold a small stadium for Highland League side Cove Rangers FC, but also serve as the training facility of Aberdeen FC and provide the Aberdeen Arena with a second access road.
These plans were rejected by the city council, but were, according to Aberdeen chairman Milne, “integral with the new AFC stadium at Loirston and this decision has effectively also killed off that development.”
Vice-chairman George Yule, in an official reaction, accused the city council of playing political games without having a proper reason to reject the plans:
… we have been planning for Calder Park over a number of years with the City Council officials. The change in administration in May brought in a different set of political values. The ruling Labour party were opposed to the stadium so it is no real surprise in many ways that they have led the campaign to effectively kill off the stadium.
The vice-chairman warned that the decision may have significant financial consequences for the club, which has already invested £2 million in the project, will lose out on future revenues, and is also likely to see funding efforts for the new stadium to be negatively affected.
The decision may also have consequences on the possibilities of playing future European football in the city of Aberdeen. From 2014, Aberdeen will need UEFA dispensation to play any European matches at Pittodrie, which may be harder to get without a proper plan for a new stadium.
Yule furthermore stated that the club had not been working on any plan B, but that it will now investigate the options it has left, which could include a move to a rural site out of the city in the Aberdeenshire area:
As much as we are a city of Aberdeen business first and foremost we get a tremendous amount of support for the club from the Shire. Perhaps that is an option we need to look at.
The club might also take a new look at redeveloping Pittodrie, but earlier research made clear that such plan is bound by a maximum capacity of 12,000 seats.
No talks have been had yet with the Aberdeenshire council, and Yule also made clear that any future cooperation with the Aberdeen city council is still on the table:
We will remain open minded and within that if there is an opportunity to engage with the council to see what can be done then naturally we will have those discussions as well. Whilst I feel that Aberdeen Football Club and Cove Rangers have been let down, I think the biggest victims in the decision are the citizens of Aberdeen.